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Potential is Interesting. Performance is EVERYTHING.

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By Gerry Peterson, Founder of Tartan Group, LLC- Executive Search, [email protected]

The hockey community in Pittsburgh continues to analyze how the talent laden Penguins could get swept in four games by Boston and exit the Stanley Cup playoffs. Pens General Manager, Ray Shero, brought together a star studded line up yet the team came up short of meeting expectations. Unfortunately the story of top talent with high potential failing to meet expectations in an organization is not uncommon.

The Pens added star players late in the season and did not perform well as a team. In a world where performance is EVERYTHING, understanding how the parts form the whole team is important. The Pens had skilled players with tremendous potential. The fans are critical of the Pens with cries that the stars did not perform. Hockey is a team sport dotted with star talent. Winning a championship requires both talent and a coordinated team effort.

Bruce Tuckman, in 1965 identified the stages all groups pass through to reach top level performance. Tuckman’s Stages model of Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing is well known to students of group transformation. Tuckman did not define a time line for each stage however the process is linear with each stage clearly defined. To reach the Performing stage the group must pass through each of the earlier stages.

The lesson for business leaders is to recognize when adding top talent in a team environment they need to include an integration plan. Integrating a new team member into the group requires a planned approach. On boarding programs can accelerate the process resulting in the team reaching top performance more quickly. A question for fans to consider: Did the Pens integrate the new talent into a performing team?

We have all observed executives with notable pedigrees fail to achieve results. We are familiar with stories of people with tremendous potential on paper and with success in other organizations failing to meet performance expectations in a new environment. Adding talent alone will not ensure performance in a team environment. There are many elements that must come together for success.

The commitment to follow through with a team integration plan is important! On boarding programs will also reduce the chance of executive derailment. Analysis by fans trying to understand the Pens defeat will continue well into next season. Adding talent with potential alone is not enough to reach top performance. When looking to maximize the return on your investment in people (ROI), do you have a program to ensure your new talent acquisitions are fully integrated into your team? Potential is interesting. Performance is EVERYTHING!


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